Understand the problem of stubble burning, know about the National Quality Index and GRAP for UPSC CSE/IAS prelims and mains.
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Contributed by
Username akashaky
on 14/10/2019

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The Present Context

The Air Quality Index of Delhi slips to the very poor quality category under the National Air Quality Index. One of the main reasons for the decrease in Air quality is stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana. In this article, we shall discuss the problem of stubble burning, will also know about the National Quality Index and will also look at the GRAP.

The problem of Stubble burning

  • After harvesting, the farmer finds this method to be easiest and cheaper way to clear the field, but this was banned because of its contribution to air pollution in Delhi NCR.
  • The government of Punjab and the Central government are providing subsidized farm equipment in order to provide alternatives to the farmers. 
  • Despite the fact that the stubble burning is banned, it has been reported that stubble burning is increased by 45% in Punjab.
  • The practice of stubble farming releases a huge quantity Particulate Matter(PM) which gets accumulated over Delhi NCR because of the calm and still wind of Delhi.
  • This causes smog conditions and creates air pollutions in the Delhi NCR region.

The National Air Quality Index(AQI)

  • The AQI is launched in 2014 under the Swach Bharat Mission. 
  • It aims to measure the extent of air quality based on eight pollutants. The pollutants are: PM(10), PM(2.5), Nitrogen Dioxide(NO2), Sulphur Dioxide(SO2), Carbon Monoxide(CO), Ozone(O3), Ammonia(NH3) and lead(Pb).
  • Based on these pollutants the air quality index for the cities is developed and is categorized.
  • The quality of air is categorized into six parts: Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe. 
  • After an increase in the particular value of AQI, the public Health Emergency would be declared.
  • Each category is color-coded and tells the corresponding Health impact. 
  • Hence it provides a description of air quality that is understandable to the general public.

The Graded Response Action Plan(GRAP)

  • It was developed in 2016 by the Central Pollution Control Board based on the direction of the Supreme Court.
  • All actions will be taken on the basis of PM 10 and PM 2.5 in the atmosphere.
  • Under this plan, pre-determined steps are taken if the air quality in Delhi NCR falls in the following grades: Under public Health Emergency, Severe, Very poor and moderately poor.
  • It will be inforced by the Environment Pollution Control Authority(EPCA).

Action plan to taken by GRAP(Source: THE HINDU)

In the case of emergency

  • Introduces odd-even
  • Stop entry of trucks and construction Activites.
  • Set up a task force to look into shutting schools.

In case of Severe condition

  • Shut down Badarpur power plant and close stone crushers
  • Intensify public transport

Very poor condition

  • Stop use of diesel generator
  • Increase the parking fee by 3-4 times
  • Increase bus and metro services
  • Stop use of coal, firewood in hotels and open eateries

Note: Delhi government is going to implement CRASP from 15th October as currently, the air quality lies in a very poor category.

Moderate-Poor Condition

  • Stop Garbage burning
  • Mechanized sweeping on roads, water sprinkling on unpaved roads.
  • The SC to ban firecrackers
  • Use social media to inform people about pollution.



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